Choosing the best gravity-fed water filtration system for the family can be daunting because almost every brand claims it is the best. Therefore, newcomers may find it hard to decide between ZeroWater vs Berkey.
It is easy to see why the Berkey water filter vs Zero Water debate is as polarizing as any controversial topic. Should you pick the more-established and well-loved brand, or will you be better off giving the fast-rising gravity water filter brand a shot?
Join us in this head-to-head matchup between two of the world’s leading countertop gravity-fed water filters.
Table of Contents
- Let Us Kick-start With a Quick Overview of the Contenders.
- ZeroWater vs. Berkey: An Overview
- Water Filtration Performance
- ZeroWater vs. Berkey Pros and Cons
- Frequently Asked Questions
Let Us Kick-start With a Quick Overview of the Contenders.
|Big Berkey||ZeroWater Dispenser|
|Contaminants Removed||232||At least 29|
|Filtration Rate||1 gallon/hour||1.5 gallons/hour|
|Filter Lifespan||10 years||1-2 months|
|Storage Capacity||2.25 gallons||2.5 gallons|
ZeroWater vs. Berkey: An Overview
A device’s water filtration performance hinges on its design, including filter type. Let us look at how ZeroWater compares with Berkey as a countertop gravity-fed water filter.
1. Filter Type
ZeroWater features a revolutionary five-stage water filtration system. The first stage is a “coarse basic” filter for removing fine particles, dirt, silt, and debris. Water moves through the second foam-based layer, screening impurities while facilitating more uniform water distribution.
The third stage features an oxidation-reduction alloy with activated carbon for reducing chlorine, heavy metals, and organic compounds. An ion exchanger purifies the water by knocking off unhealthy ions in the water.
Rounding up ZeroWater’s filtration system is a non-woven membrane layer with an ultra-fine mesh, similar to a whole-house water filtration system’s post-filter unit.
Meanwhile, Berkey countertop gravity-fed water filters use the Black Berkey system, featuring five proprietary-technology filter media. So, what are Berkey filters made of? The brand employs microfilters, ion exchange filters, and granular activated carbon filters.
2. How They Work
Berkey and ZeroWater remove impurities by relying on gravity to pull water across semipermeable membranes.
The water’s weight pushes it down the filter column, making these systems simple yet effective. They do not require electricity or pump pressure to force water and other molecules through the filter layers.
These products are two-tank systems: the top unit holds the tap water while the bottom tank stores the filtered water.
3. Storage Capacity, Dimensions, and Materials
ZeroWater is more compact than Berkey, making it an excellent choice for homeowners with limited countertop space. Most of ZeroWater’s models are made of plastic, except for the glass 40-cup variant. Meanwhile, Berkey’s filters are always made with stainless steel.
Here is a rundown of each water filter brand’s attributes.
|Filter||Weight||Height||Price||Cost per Gallon|
|7-cup||2.24 lbs||9.5 in||$21.99||$0.38|
|10-cup||2.8 lbs||10.25 in||$32.99||$0.38|
|12-cup||3 lbs||11 in||$37.99||$0.38|
|30-cup||4 lbs||10.625 in||$39.99||$0.38|
|40-cup||9.2 lbs||19.8 in||$74.99||$0.39|
|Filter||Weight||Height||Price||Cost per Gallon|
|Travel (1.5 gals)||6 lbs||19 in||$249||$0.04|
|Big (2.25 gals)||7 lbs||21 in||$278||$0.05|
|Royal (3.25 gals)||8 lbs||24 in||$305||$0.05|
|Imperial (4.5 gals)||10 lbs||27 in||$335||$0.05|
|Crown (6 gals)||12 lbs||31 in||$360||$0.05|
Water Filtration Performance
It is a tight race for the best countertop gravity-fed water filter between ZeroWater and Berkey. So, let us see if their filtration performance will produce a clear winner.
1. Contaminants Removed
ZeroWater’s five-stage water filtration system allows it to remove at least 29 impurities. It can remove microplastics, including polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS; also known as “forever chemicals”). Test results show ZeroWater filters can also reduce glyphosate, chlorine, lime, lead, and other impurities.
Can Zero Water remove bacteria, viruses, cysts, and other harmful waterborne microorganisms? Unfortunately, it cannot.
Can Zero Water remove calcium and magnesium? The brand says its filters can remove dissolved minerals in the water. It is worth noting it features an ion exchange filter similar to a water softener. Unsurprisingly, this water filter can reduce total dissolved solids (TDS).
Meanwhile, Berkey removes about 232 water impurities, including the following.
- 57 organic chemicals
- 52 semi-VOCs
- 40 pesticides
- 24 inorganic chemicals and heavy metals
- 24 radioactive particles
- 17 pharmaceutical agents
- 9 perfluorinated chemicals (PFAS)
- 6 petroleum products
- 3 disinfectants (i.e., chloramine and chlorine)
Berkey gains the upper hand in this department. Although the ZeroWater arsenic removal capabilities are impressive, its inability to reduce cysts, viruses and bacteria makes Berkey the clear winner in filtration performance.
2. Filter Durability
We know that filters can clog easily the smaller their pores are. Unsurprisingly, Berkey also has the upper hand in filter longevity, beating ZeroWater by almost a decade (10 years vs. 1-2 months). This means ZeroWater will be costlier in the long run because of more frequent filter replacements.
For instance, the ZeroWater 40-gallon model can only last 1 to 2 months. In some cases, the longevity may be cut shorter, depending on the TDS level and overall water quality. The included TDS meter will inform you when a replacement is due.
3. Filtration Rate
Although both brands remove minerals, VOCs, PFAs, and other water contaminants, they are somewhat sluggish to filter. For example, Berkey can only screen about a gallon of water an hour, while ZeroWater filters 1.5 gallons per hour.
ZeroWater has a slight advantage over Berkey regarding their filtration rate. But is this enough to wrest the lead from Berkey?
We could stop at the filtration performance and declare Berkey the winner. However, we must also consider other factors.
4. Additional Offerings
These brands do not only provide countertop gravity-fed water filtration systems. For instance, Berkey has water bottle filters and shower head filters, making its Berkey water filter lead removal performance available to homeowners with old shower plumbing systems.
Meanwhile, ZeroWater has water filter pitchers, shower filters, and faucet-mounted filters.
ZeroWater is the clear winner in this category. An IAPMO-accredited, New Jersey-based ISO 17025 independent laboratory performs a comprehensive ZeroWater filter test for all ZeroWater products based on NSF/ANSI standards.
Although Berkey does not have NSF certifications for its products, the brand says its water filter quality standards exceed NSF/ANSI 42 and NSF/ANSI 53 protocols. Unfortunately, some folks might still feel unsure about a product without an NSF certification.
If ZeroWater wins the NSF certification battle, Berkey reclaims the throne with its unbeatable lifetime warranty. ZeroWater can only offer 90 days, suggesting its products might not last that long.
Between ZeroWater and Berkey, the former is much more affordable. This is due to how ZeroWater’s products are made of either plastic or glass—both of which are cheaper than stainless steel.
ZeroWater filters range in price from $21.99 to $74.99. Meanwhile, the cheapest Berkey costs $249, and its most expensive 6-gallon unit will set you back by $360.
ZeroWater vs. Berkey Pros and Cons
Here is a summary of the two brands’ strengths and weaknesses.
|Big Berkey||ZeroWater Dispenser|
|Pros||● Removes more contaminants, including bacteria and cysts
● More durable (longer-lasting) filters
● More cost-effective in the long run
● Lifetime warranty
|● Lower purchase cost
● TDS reduction-capable
● Larger capacity
|Cons||● Slower filtration rate
● No NSF certification
● No TDS reduction capabilities
|● Removes far fewer contaminants
● Short filter lifespan and warranty
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is ZeroWater as good as Berkey?
No, a Zero Water filter is not as good as Berkey, especially considering its 29 water contaminants removed versus Berkey’s 232. Although ZeroWater has an NSF certification for its filtration system and Berkey does not, its performance cannot match Berkey.
Berkey might not have the NSF badge, but it has a strong following of real-life families using and are happy with its gravity-fed water filtration performance. It can also reduce bacterial and cyst counts, while ZeroWater cannot.
2. Which is better: ZeroWater or Brita?
ZeroWater outperforms Brita, especially when comparing a five-stage water filtration system to a two-stage device. The more filtration mechanisms a technology has, the more contaminants it can remove from the water.
Ordinary, real-world folks attest to ZeroWater’s performance relative to Brita (and PUR). For instance, several Reddit users have agreed that ZeroWater was the better one.
In addition, ZeroWater could reduce water contaminants from 150.0 or 250.0 to 0.0 in a ppm chart. Brita, on the other hand, could only reduce 147 ppm on average.
3. Does ZeroWater remove fluoride?
Yes, ZeroWater removes fluoride. It is worth noting that the ZeroWater fluoride reduction mechanism is slightly different from other gravity-fed water filters.
The brand’s five-stage filtration system features an ion exchange resin that pulls negatively charged fluoride ions from the water, leaving behind calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and other essential minerals. Interestingly, Berkey’s Black Berkey also features an ion exchange filter.
ZeroWater vs Berkey? ZeroWater’s principal advantage over Berkey is its NSF certification and lower purchase price.
However, Berkey is the better one in terms of water filtration performance, removing 232 contaminants against ZeroWater 29. Note that while Berkey can reduce bacteria, viruses, and cysts, it cannot match its competitor’s TDS removal capabilities.
Berkey is an excellent choice if you do not pay much attention to NSF certifications and relish its longer-lasting filter and filtration performance. On the other hand, pick ZeroWater if you do not mind replacing the filter every few months and only need to remove a few contaminants.
As the founder of Usawaterquality, I have been working to deliver quality advice on utilizing water components for numerous households. Here, we believe that water quality is the most critical part of health care, so the investment and attention for the water system will never go to waste.